In Japanese culture spring is traditionally acknowledged as the changing and dividing season best represented in the changing of school and fiscal years. Especially from the end of March towards the beginning of April is understood to be the “separating and meeting” season as there are many graduations, enrollments to schools and companies, as well as personnel revisions. Because spring was originally January in the lunar calendar, the word often times denotes the beginning of things.
As the air becomes warmer particularly from mid March, various kinds of flowers bloom and blossom starting from the southern warm regions. Ume (plum blossoms), momo (peach blossoms) nanohana (rape blossoms) as well as sakura (cherry blossoms) are the prominent kinds all representing profound aspects of Japanese custom and lifestyles inherited over the millenniums.
Above all the flowers, perhaps sakura has the closest link with Japanese culture. Sakura trees can be seen all over Japan from the northern end to southern islands and bloom at once but for only about a week. The brilliant, gorgeous yet short span of the blossoms leaves a great impact in the minds and hearts of Japanese people and is a very significant factor for people to form the sense of seasons, also because of its resemblance to a life of human beings. For this reason, people lay great importance on hanami, cherry blossoms viewing, and the drinks (alcohol) taken as one views the blossoms are considered to have elegant aestheticism set aside the excessively cheery hanami parties that produce a number of drunkyards.
Many things in many ways change with the arrival of May bringing the year’s most comfortable weather conditions. Many people like go on a brief vacations during the series of holidays in the beginning of the month aka Golden Week. After the GW the excitement and nervousness of the changing in the environment settle down making the month to be a little more calmer, yet it is also the time of year when people can feel a bit gloomier as represented in the term May Disease. Even then the air is fresh with brighter and warmer days, fresh early summer breeze and lots of green in the scenes.
- fruits... strawberries, natsumikan (summer orange; Chinese citron), grapefruit, avocado, melon (May-), Japanese loquat (May-), etc.
- fish... red sea bream, butterfish, clams, icefish, etc.
- vegetables... takenoko (bamboo shoots younger than 10 days), spring onions, beans, celery, nanohana (field mustard) etc.
- others: hina-arare (cubic rice crackers and puffs made for Girl’s Festival), hanami-dango (rice dumplings in white, pink and green stuck through a wooden spit eaten at hanami occassions), sakuramochi (Japanese sweets of rice dumpling with bean jam filling, wrapped with salted cherry leaf), kashiwamochi (like sakuramochi, cover replaced by oak leaf)
Temperature and Rainfall (Approximate, Tokyo)
- March: 5-15C / 40-59F; 120mm month total
- April: 10-20C / 50-68F; 130mm month total
- May: 15-20C / 59-68F; 130mm month total
Outfit (Tokyo and around)
- March... long sleeved shirts, jackets, (trench) coats, scarves, pants, skirts, boots, pumps, sneakers, mules, etc.
- April... long sleeved shirts, short sleeved shirts, jackets, spring trench coats, spring scarves, pants, skirts, spring boots, pumps, mules, sneakers, etc.
- May... short sleeved shirts, spring/summer jackets, pants, skirts, pumps, mules, sandals, etc.